Every time an election comes around, candidates call it “the most important election of our lifetime.” Most of the time they are overstating the case.
And while I will not make the same statement about the upcoming midterm elections, I could make a reasonable argument that the stakes in a midterm election have never been higher than they are right now.
GOP House Speaker Paul D. Ryan likes to talk about the pathways both parties offer to voters, calling it a “choice of two futures.”
Using that framing device, let us explore the two most likely election results and what they would mean for the country.
Option 1: Democrats take back control of the House. Republicans maintain narrow control of the Senate.
In this scenario, everything changes almost immediately. Nancy Pelosi is likely elected speaker of the House again, and with that step three things happen.
First, House Democrats will use subpoena power to open more than a dozen investigations of President Trump, his family, the White House staff, the Cabinet and the executive branch. These investigations will take a tremendous toll on these individuals, costing them tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in legal bills. Congress will focus more on investigations and less on solving problems.
Second, the Republican legislative agenda will be stopped in its tracks. The Trump tax cut may be rescinded or cut back significantly, new regulations will be pursued, single-payer health care will be pushed. The consequences for the economy and wages could be profound. Strong economic growth, rising employment and consumer confidence would turn the wrong direction after the robust growth over the past 20 months.
Third, Mrs. Pelosi will move to impeach President Trump in the first 90 days. Her liberal base will demand it. A simple majority is all that would be needed, and Mr. Trump will be impeached in the House. That would historic, as former President Bill Clinton knows all too well. An impeachment battle will paralyze Washington and the division between the two parties will only widen. Will it lead anywhere? No. A two-thirds vote is required in the Senate, and even if Democrats had the Senate majority they would still need 16 Republican votes to remove the president. That, it’s safe to say, will never happen.
The net effect: paralysis in Congress, a weaker economy, subpoena power for Democratic committee chairs, and an impeached president.
These are the stakes.
Option 2: Republicans hold on to their House and Senate majorities.
In this scenario, the GOP agenda survives. Mr. Trump and Congress can come together to (finally) repeal and replace Obamacare; make the tax cuts permanent while further simplifying the tax code; pass an infrastructure bill; improve trade deals to benefit our workers;, and confirm more conservative judges for district, appellate, and perhaps the Supreme Court.
This scenario is not impossible. With 29 swing House seats, Republicans must win 16 to hold the House. The odds are with the Democrats, but the outcome is not determined. Republicans can still hold the House.
Trump voters may not think the Trump presidency on the ballot, but Democrats will aim to decimate Mr. Trump’s momentum and legacy if they retake the House. Mr. Trump is on the ballot, let there be no doubt.
There is a third scenario — that Democrats somehow take the House and the Senate, an outcome requiring a truly mammoth blue wave. The math makes this scenario nearly impossible, as Democrats would have to win 12 of 12 competitive Senate races, or all but one and flip either Texas or Tennessee. The ramifications of this outcome are so dire I do not want to even contemplate them. I do not believe this scenario will occur.
If you like peace and prosperity, you need to vote Republican this November.
Any other choice, for any other reason, risks the economy, our security — and our future.
• Matt Mackowiak is president of Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.-based Potomac Strategy Group. He’s a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney re-election campaign veteran and former press secretary to two U.S. senators.
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